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Se7en (18)

Review: Jack Foley

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: The movie in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen with a choice of Dolby 5.1 or DTS. Isolated soundtrack. Numerous commentaries including Bradd Pitt and Morgan Freeman, David Fincher (Director), Richard Dyer (Author), Andrew Kevin Walker (Screenwriter), Richard Francis-Bruce (Editor), Michael DeLuca (New Line President), Darius Khonjio (Director of Photography), Arthur Max (Production Designer), Howard Shore (Composer) and Ren Klyce (Sound Designer).
Disc Two: A look at the opening title sequence with optional commentaries from those who designed it. Deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary. Alternative ending with commentary. Still photos with commentary. John Doe's Notebooks. Eight minute feature with commentary on the design of John Doe's Notebooks. Promotional material including original theatrical trailer. Feature on the making of the DVD.

EVERY once in a while, a film comes along that simply grabs you by the balls and refuses to let go, such is its power, its originality and its sheer audacity. Se7en, David Fincher's bleak and uncompromising psycho thriller, is just that type of movie.

Starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, it tells the seemingly simple story of two detectives in a nameless, rain-swept city, investigating a serial killer who uses each of the seven deadly sins to dispatch his victims.

Interesting premise, decent cast, one might think. Oh, and wasn't Fincher the guy responsible for 'ruining' the Alien series with the bleak third instalment?

It was little surprise, therefore, that audiences felt like they'd been hit repeatedly over the head with a sledgehammer after seeing this film and immediately began hailing Fincher as the next great thing. Hell, even Alien 3 was re-evaluated and rated.

But such was Se7en's power that it instantly became hailed as a modern classic, an unrelenting journey into darkness which simply refused to let up - even during its shocking finale in a sun-soaked, ultra-bright terrain.

Se7en was - and still remains - my favourite preview. When I saw it, the only things I knew about it were that it starred the aforementioned Pitt and Freeman and that Pitt had badly injured his wrist during the filming of a stunt.

When the final credits started rolling, however, I knew immediately that I had seen something special - as did the rest of the assembled critics. There was silence, as people attempted to take in that conclusion, and then a round of applause - at a film, goddamit!! Se7en recorded a ten in most people's ratings system.

The film itself is as riveting as it is sick, yet it is undeniably a work of genius. By shooting the majority of the picture in a dark, nameless city, Fincher creates a nightmarish vision which is hard to forget. And by standing back from showing the killer's excesses, he forces viewers' minds into overdrive as they come to terms with the gory excesses of its protagonist. Hence, the film is more psychologically violent than it is physically. Fincher said that he wanted his picture to scar, and it does.

Performance-wise, it also delivers. Freeman is his usual honourable self as a detective on the verge of turning his back on the world, who reluctantly agrees to guide Pitt's hot-headed youngster through a case he is sure can't have a happy ending.

Freeman's is a subdued performance which rewards in its wisdom. He is the moral core of the movie, a person who has seen too much and who has become disillusioned with society, but who can't help himself from doing the right thing.

Pitt, on the other hand, epitomises the arrogance of youth as the ambitious newcomer determined to crack his first big case and prove to his colleagues that he is a detective of stature. Yet it is this ambition which drives him blindly towards his final confrontation with Kevin Spacey's repulsive, yet brilliant, killer.

Caught in between, trying to carve out a life for herself, is Gwyneth Paltrow's sweet and innocent wife; someone who wants nothing more than to see her husband (Pitt) succeed but who is forced to confess her frustrations to the weary Freeman. Her scenes with Freeman are frequently heartbreaking, especially given the movie's ending.

Se7en may be the type of film which is hard to watch and impossible to really enjoy (in the typical Hollywood sense, that is), but it is never less than compulsive and is an essential addition to any true movie buff's collection - much as Fincher's later Fight Club also is. And the DVD is pretty special.

This new two-disc set (which replaces the original, no-frills disappointment) comes complete with an alternative ending, some deleted scenes (including a superb original opening featuring more of Freeman), animated storyboard exploration, opening title sequence exploration with multiple angles, the theatrical trailer, multiple animated galleries featuring production designs and photographs, a feature on John Doe's notebooks, filmogs and - best of all - four cast and crew commentaries featuring Pitt, Freeman and Fincher.

Our advice? Waste no time at all in adding this to your collection...